Women, in our quest for freedom and independence, continue to face obstacles in society that deny us the right to a life of our own creation. In Palestine, women who aspire to be entrepreneurs must first overcome one of the greatest obstacles to their success: the fear of failure. I say this from experience. As the manager of TYO’s Women's Entrepreneurship Program, I have understood well the various barriers that Palestinian women face on their journey to independence as businesswomen: the cultural and social barriers that confine womanhood to the roles of a mother and wife, the economic barriers of poverty that make personal investments in a dream seem too great a risk and the political barriers of living in Palestine where day to day operations may change at any given moment. Yet, at the heart of each of these barriers lies the fear of failure–that if these women try and fail, they may stand to lose everything.
This is precisely what we work to unlearn at TYO through our series of workshops with aspiring Palestinian entrepreneurs. We work past emotions of fear: what if people in my community judge or even reject me for breaking barriers as I seek to be more than a mother and wife, but also a strong and successful businesswoman? Or, what if my investments all amount to nothing and my children must pay the price? These are questions we confront and work through at TYO as we equip Palestinian women with the knowledge they need to strategize for their success.
Once our women arrive, we begin with psychosocial training to rise above cultural and societal restrictions. We build our women up to be brave risk-takers. We encourage them to remember their visions and we give them the tools to make a roadmap that will bring their projects to life. Following this, sessions focus on business development and training to give the necessary financial skills and literacy to succeed as emerging entrepreneurs. Ultimately, we work with Palestinian women to find the inner confidence they need to believe in themselves and their visions in order to achieve their dreams. At the final stage, I witness a beautiful transformation within our women: they emerge as courageous, confident trailblazers with determination to succeed as entrepreneurs. And the impact is long-lasting for our community. At the closing ceremony, when our women share their ideas they inspire the next generation of Palestinian women to continue to forge new pathways and open doors for women to reject fear and embrace risk.
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